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Making art out of mini human hearts – Dundee Arts Café returns

7 September 2015

Real miniature beating human hearts and art inspired by the heart will be the topic of this Tuesday’s (8 September) Dundee Arts Café in the McManus Gallery.

The event will feature Professor Nikolai Zhelev and Curator Clare Brennan discussing the thoughts behind Hannah Maclure Centre’s latest exhibition – ‘Hearts’.

Inspired by Professor Zhelev’s research at Abertay University – where he uses stem cells to create miniature beating human hearts to find a cure for heart disease – ‘Hearts’ examines incredible breakthroughs in life sciences research and the inspiring work of internationally renowned artists where the heart is central to their artwork.

In ‘Hearts – behind the exhibition’ on Tuesday night, Professor Zhelev will speak about his own research, and the very real scientific possibilities that stem cell research has begun to open up in the world of science and medicine.

Clare, meanwhile, will share her experiences not only of curating the exhibition itself, but also the benefits of bringing together artists and scientists to share their work with each other and with a wider audience.

She explains: “The exhibition was inspired by the research Professor Zhelev is carrying out at Abertay to find a cure for heart disease – something I thought would be interesting to explore from a completely different perspective.

“Hearts feature strongly in the arts and humanities – in poetry and prose as well as in the visual arts and performance – but the social and emotional sides are rarely brought together with the science.

“I felt like there would be a lot of scope for further interpretation, and when we started to research artists who explored the heart within their own practice and research, this certainly proved to be the case.

“The exhibition looks at the heart in transplantation, the heart as a complex system, the heart as a poetic object – even the heart as inspiration for designing a new computer game prototype, which we’ll be doing through a dedicated game jam with our students.”

Ingrid Bachmann - The Gift - web

“Through a programme of exhibition – that includes ‘living’ sculptures, projection, ceramics, film and more – and a series of talks, performance and workshops teaching life-saving skills such as CPR, we will celebrate the heart”

“It’s been fascinating looking at how scientific research and artistic practice can come together and challenge each other in such interesting and unexpected ways. And I think it will be wonderful for our visitors to hear about and understand the incredible research happening on our doorstep, which is normally tucked away in labs and in academic publications.”

The event is free and begins at 6pm in The McManus Café. Everyone is welcome, but places are limited so please arrive early to avoid disappointment, as the event is non-bookable. Doors open at 5pm.


For media enquiries, please contact Chris Wilson (Communications Manager) – T: 01382 308522 M: 07837 250284 E:

Notes to Editors:

‘Hearts’ is one half of the combined exhibition ‘Hearts and Minds’, a joint project between Abertay University and the University of Dundee.

‘Hearts’ previews on Friday 11 September from 6-8pm and runs until Friday 23 October in the Hannah Maclure Centre at Abertay University.

‘Minds’ previews on Friday 18 September from 5-7pm and runs until Saturday 18 October in LifeSpace at the University of Dundee.

Dundee Arts Café is a programme of talks showcasing arts research and developments taking place locally. The series is organised by the Universities of Dundee and Abertay, and Dundee City Council’s Leisure & Culture department.

Dundee Arts Café events enable members of the public to relax and discuss the arts, from English to History, Philosophy to Architecture, and Fine Art to Product Design, with some of the leading names carrying out work in these areas in Dundee. A conceptual artist, Martin worked closely with Professor Zhelev to gain an understanding of the scientific process behind creating the miniature hearts, before coming up with the concept of a ‘hybrid heart’ to be featured in the exhibition.

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